Updated: May 24, 2022
Giving the answers to their kids’ homework to get them through the assignment. Managing the friends and resolving conflicts between children and their friends. Ordering food for their children at the restaurant so the child does not have to talk with the waiter. College admission scandals when parents bribe school administration for their child's admission. Contacting teachers, employers, coaches, the parents of other kids, in order to micromanage or advocate for their child.
This is lawnmower parenting.
Paving the Way
Lawnmower parenting paves the way for their kids, removing all obstacles from the path; weeds, rocks, and thorns. The parents are the heros to their kids in most aspects of their lives. Watch out teachers, coaches and others, while being the loving hero, they intend fight ruthlessly to knock down any enemies that their child may face. In doing so, they attempt to remove/overcome the challenges for their kid. Disappointment, discomfort, and adversity all are eliminated and avoided at all costs in an attempt to pave the way to success for the child.
The intention of this type of parenting is natural, and to some degree all parents do this. Lawnmower parents attempt to eliminate the roadblocks for their children so that the child can more easily succeed. Successful children is what every parent desires, but the reality is that this type of parenting rarely works. In fact, it often backfires and hinders a child’s development.
The Root Cause
This type of parenting often times comes from parents who had a difficult, sometimes with neglectful upbringing. They had to scrap for everything. These types of parents had to grow up fast, and face a variety of difficult family, financial, and educational situations. With that being said, they had it hard. They made a promise to themselves that they would make it easier for their kids. These parents are often highly intelligent, and successful people. They had to be in order to overcome obstacles from their childhood. Now they intend to make it easy on their kids. They often feel exhausted juggling their own responsibilities on top of their child’s responsibilities as well.
Consequences in Children
Lack of motivation
Lack of confidence in themselves
Lack of decision making skills
Lack of self-management skills
Low problem solving skills
When developed, these skills often translate to success in a variety of sectors include careers, friendships, marriages, sports and teams/clubs. That is one reason why lawnmower parenting is so crippling. It hinders the development of these skills. Adversity and discomfort help to develop a child's character in a multitude of ways. In our favorite stories, the hero's journey always encounters mishaps, evil, and setbacks along the way towards success. These initial setbacks, while they can be devastating at first, are inspiring and confidence building for the hero and others in the end. Why would we take these opportunities to be the hero from our kids?
"Children lose the opportunity to be the hero of their own story
when the parent plays hero all the time."
Relational Issues with Lawnmower parenting
One of the most common issues lawn mower parents face with their children is lack of validation of the child's feelings. The most difficult thing in your life, is the most difficult thing in your life. With their kids, they have taken out the more difficult things and replaced them with the easier. When their kids complain about the easy things, that is when lawn mower parents step in and they might say, "You have no reason to complain", "I don't understand why you can't _____, it is so easy", "I can't believe you can't do _________, I was doing that by _______."
These types of phrases are invalidating to the child's experience. Can you imagine a child struggle with an "easy" task and then further belittled because they cannot do such a simple thing? Events like that can shake a child's confidence and self esteem. Furthermore, it can create resentment and bitterness, causing a divide between the child and the parents
If any of these phrases sound familiar, chances are you might be dealing with some lawnmower parenting tendencies yourself. That is ok. It is time to make a few adjustments. Here is a place to start.
The Cure for Lawnmower Parenting
Something that you can start to do to counteract some of the lawnmower parenting tendencies is cultivating independence and confidence in your child. That starts with YOU. You have to be patient and strong enough to watch your child endure some degree of discomfort and setbacks. Believe that your child can problem solve and find a way to get through this hard situation. You might even have a conversation with them, and hold them accountable rather than hold yourself accountable to resolve issues. If you can do this, you are well on your way to instilling independence and confidence in your child and cultivating the cure for lawnmower parenting.